A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

Archive for the month “May, 2011”

What Nirvana is not

It seems the idea of Nirvana is so appealing companies around the world use the term to entice you to buy there products. So today I’m going to do the easy part, and tell you what is not Nirvana:

It is the name of a grunge rock band from Seattle, however with their promotion of mind altering substances, definitively not the real Nirvana.

It is not Taco Bell‘s Enchilada Nirvana from 2003, eating their chicken enchilada will not have you floating in the air.

Even though web pages may exist in the cloud as they now call online storage or hosting, it is not a Vancouver web design firm.

If getting thing off your mind, was all it took, it might be a browser based organizer from a Montreal company, but it’s more so, so sorry.

Nirvana requires a mind free from intoxicants, so it is not a Cannabis seed supplier in the USA.

It’s not one of who knows how many restaurants.

Also sorry ladies, its not a chocolate company of the same name either.

There are many more, however tomorrow, I’ll try to explain what the Buddha meant by Nirvana.



Himalayan ice is vanishing, and Asia faces drought

Here is something to consider. By 2050 the 5 great rivers that provide water and sustain agriculture in Asia will support 50 million less people per year. At the same time unless the population growth in Asia slows down there will be over 2.4 billion more mouths to feed. The earth is already straining to feed our current population. In ancient times the locusts would be considered the threat to the food supply, today we have replaced them. These rivers are going to suffer the loss of water at their source, the Himalayan glaciers. It is not just Asia that will suffer this catastrophe, but every where in the world that depends on glacier fed rivers. If we do not slow down the temperature rise due to greenhouse gasses, we will not only starve many people to death, we will also see many die from dehydration related causes. The Buddha taught 2600 years ago, that we need to live in harmony with all living beings. Today consumerism is saying be happy now, buy more tomorrow, and soon tomorrow will be a never realized dream for many.

We are all one and interdependant

I’m going to start off with two quotes, one from H.H. The Dalai Lama, the other by Albert Einstein. I’m going to show that on interdependence both the left brain and right brain see it the same way, just use different language to describe it.

“Consider the following. We humans are social beings. We come into the world as the result of others’ actions. We survive here in dependence on others. Whether we like it or not, there is hardly a moment of our lives when we do not benefit from others’ activities. For this reason it is hardly surprising that most of our happiness arises in the context of our relationships with others. Nor is it so remarkable that our greatest joy should come when we are motivated by concern for others. But that is not all. We find that not only do altruistic actions bring about happiness but they also lessen our experience of suffering. Here I am not suggesting that the individual whose actions are motivated by the wish to bring others’ happiness necessarily meets with less misfortune than the one who does not. Sickness, old age, mishaps of one sort or another are the same for us all. But the sufferings which undermine our internal peace — anxiety, doubt, disappointment — these things are definitely less. In our concern for others, we worry less about ourselves. When we worry less about ourselves an experience of our own suffering is less intense.

What does this tell us? Firstly, because our every action has a universal dimension, a potential impact on others’ happiness, ethics are necessary as a means to ensure that we do not harm others. Secondly, it tells us that genuine happiness consists in those spiritual qualities of love, compassion, patience, tolerance and forgiveness and so on. For it is these which provide both for our happiness and others’ happiness.”

Dalai Lama in his book: Ethics for the New Millennium:Page, 62

“How strange is the lot of us mortals!  Each of us is here for a brief sojourn; for what purpose he knows not, though he senses it.  But without deeper reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people – first of all for those upon whose smiles and well-being our own happiness is wholly dependent, and then for the many, unknown to us, to whose destinies are bound by the ties of sympathy.”

Albert Einstein in his book: The World as I see it: page 8

So here we have the Buddha who looked to find a treatment to unhappiness, and a scientist who wanted to discover how the world worked, both coming to the same conclusion, that everything is interdependent. The tree that is cut down to make way for a new road, provides shade for other plants that can’t take the direct sun. It’s roots help hold the soil together, and shelter animals and plants from strong winds. The birds, and perhaps a squirrel may call it home, and many insects will be found on it, or under it. Take away one tree, it makes a small difference, clear cut miles upon miles and you can devastate an ecosystem, perhaps destroy the last of a species. Closer to home, who among us does not depend on another human for their daily survival. Very few id any of us, don’t depend on someone else, for our food supply, our clothing and out water. Even a hermit living far from civilization, depends on others upstream, not to pollute this water supply. The monk depends on the lay person to give him sustenance when he goes on his alms rounds. As a newly born child, we depend on others to protect us, and feed us for the first few years of our lives. If we can keep the thought that we all need each other, perhaps we can stop the grasping to accumulate more than our fair share of this planets resources. Making a billion dollars, will not do any of us much good, if we destroy the planets ability to support us. Killing other beings lessens us, in moral and potentially physical ways. Just as many diseases that strike humans are the result of zoonosis, or the result of a disease being transferred from another species to humans. So is the ability to find a cure to these disease often dependent on studying the original source of the infection. Every decision we make must take into account the web of conections that surrounds every being.

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